Two of Sri Lanka’s leading Buddhist institutions Ananda and Nalanda will come out once again when they clash for the 82nd time in their annual Battle of the Maroons encounter for the Sujeewa Kamalsooriya trophy on March 5 and 6 at the SSC ground. Kamalsooriya was an outstanding sportsman of Ananda who led the cricket team in 1983. He met with a tragic death during the tsunami disaster that devastated Sri Lanka in 2004.
With the Anandians having last won the encounter under the captaincy of Daminda Kularatne in 2003, the Nalandians on the other hand will go all out to break the 55-year-old jinx of having tasted their last win way back in 1953 under the leadership of W.W. Silva.
According to the form of the two teams this season Ananda are unbeaten having played 15 matches with seven outright wins and the rest drawn while Nalanda from the 13 matches that they have played have secured two outright wins one defeat to Trinity. Nalanda will be led by Prashan Wickramasinghe who is the side’s only centurion and also their top scorer for the season with over 500 runs.
The skipper has two other batsmen whom he can rely on in Sineth Gunawardena and Charitha Kumarasinghe.Nalanda will be looking forward for some useful knocks from Sri Lanka youth player Koshan Dhanushka, Ishan Rangana and Gayan Medwatha to bolster the scoreboard.
Their bowling will revolve in spinner Koshan Dhanushka, Sineth Gunawardena, Dasun Tharinda, Malinda Vimukthi and Gayan Medawatte all of whom will have to be at their best to curtail their opponents.
Likewise Ananda too has their skipper Geshan Wimaladarma as their top scorer of the side with over 800 runs to his credit which includes a century. Along with his deputy Ruvinda Shamen, the other century maker will be their mainstay in the batting department. The others who could chip in with some useful knocks are Pasindu Madushan and Thushara Samarakoon.
The Ananda bowling will of course be spearheaded by right arm spinner Sachitra Perera who at the time of writing has taken 99 scalps for the season and he will have all rounder Pasindu Madushan, Thamalaka Athulathmudali and Venuka Ashen to support him. Nevertheless Nalanda though not possessing the ammunition that their rivals have are capable of giving them a run for their money while Ananda will look forward to keep up the winning trend of this season and keep their unbeaten tag.
From the 81 matches that have been played so far Ananda are in the lead with 14 wins against six to Nalanda with the rest drawn. But in most of the big matches the underdogs have fared better than the fancied side.
So Ananda cannot afford to hang on to their laurels and be over confident. It all points to an interesting battle with the Anandians hoping to finish off the season on a winning note and record their second win after seven years with the Nalandians aiming to break the 55 year old jinx.